Opinion Asks: Orientation Issue

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 9/8/15 7:45pm

While this doesn’t apply to everyone, I think in my case, I don’t wish I knew anything more than I did. For me, the process of discovery of the amazing world available to me at Dartmouth has made me who I am, with revelations of holes in my knowledge and understanding individual discovery spurring me to learn more and develop into a better person. After three years here, I have a greater appreciation of everything in life than I could have ever possibly hoped for before. My only regret is that because this process has taken my three full years, I only have one year left to fully appreciate everything — so I’ll make the best of it that I can and encourage everyone else to do the same.

— Will Alston ’16

When I first entered college, I had a very a clear idea of what I wanted to do and who I wanted to become — a trend that I have noticed affects most incoming first-year students. This makes sense considering the College tends to attract a particular type of student, namely the ambitious and forward-looking kind. These are great qualities to have, but they can also lead people — like myself — to ignore their instincts, their interests and their passions in favor of a contrived image of the perfect Dartmouth student. This means enrolling in all the “right” classes, participating in all the “right” extracurricular or social activities and engaging in the College’s social scene in the “right” way.

As I have discovered since my first year, though, there is no “right” way to be a Dartmouth student — there is only your way. Take the time to explore who you are, and take the courses that interest you during your journey. Involve yourself in the extracurriculars that you enjoy and choose a major you love — not the one that promises the quickest post-graduation employment. Take part in the College’s social scene at your own pace, or even not at all. And, perhaps most importantly, surround yourself with people who make you feel happy and supported. Keep in mind that just because this is a new place with new people, no one is entitled to your time, to your kindness, to you. You have only have four years here, so use them in the way that feels right to you.

— Nicole Simineri ’17

I would want my freshman self to take advantage of all resources offered by the College for academic success. As an incoming student, you likely did very well in high school. You will probably do very well in college, too, but you shouldn’t assume that what worked for you before will continue to do so. More often than not, you will find yourself challenged by your classes. That’s a good thing. So, go to office hours, meet with the teaching assistant, go to the Academic Skills Center, get a tutor, ask your classmates to study together. Cramming the night before may not work as well as it did in high school, so stay on top of your classes before a big midterm hits. Finally, go to class. Seriously, that’s why we are in college.

— Reem Chamseddine ’17

If I could go back to last September, I would tell myself not to pick insanely hard classes. I was used to taking the most difficult classes, and when I entered Dartmouth, knowing its reputation for incredible professors, I tried to challenge myself with three difficult classes. That was a mistake — though I ended up doing alright, I struggled a lot in the beginning of the term, spent the second half trying to catch up and didn’t get to do a lot of other things I wanted to. It’s important to take classes that force you to challenge yourself, but it’s also so important to leave time to enjoy the whole experience. Freshman fall especially is such a scary term, with leaving home and being immersed in a completely new environment, and I wish I had taken classes that would have made the transition slightly easier. We’re only given four short years at Dartmouth — though we’re here to learn, our most lasting and cherished memories can only be made outside of the classroom.

— Ziqin Yuan ’18

You’re in college now, and things will change. That includes classes and social life, but also campus clubs and activities. Before I arrived to campus, I had it all mapped out — what programs I would apply for during my freshmen year, what clubs I wanted to join, what activities I wanted to do. I was eager for all the opportunities. You will find, however, that other activities and various courses come to you, and you shouldn’t be afraid to give up a path that you were so set on. A good piece of advice would be to pick activities according to the rule of three — one activity that you already have experience in, one activity that totally excites you and one activity that you absolutely have no clue about but sounds outrageously cool. You’ll find that by the end of your first term, you would have narrowed it down to one, perhaps two, which you can continue on with for the rest of the year. It’s important to have an activity that you’re already comfortable because it provides you with a sense of security and self-esteem in perhaps what will be one of the most overwhelming terms you’ll have at Dartmouth. But it’s just as important to reinvent yourself. Branch out — you may find that green thumb or athlete inside of you that you never knew existed.

— Annika Park ’18